Peak Everything? Save Your Junk.

Camden Asay, Peak Everything, Peak Oil, Infographic, Recycled Materials, Natural Materials, ewasteDon’t throw out your e-waste and other junk; in a few decades, you could be sitting on a gold mine.  

Last year we posted a funky little video that detailed what goes into making just one cell phone. “Eric-Sun” – a personified cellular phone facing the end of its life – is comprised in part of  South African gold and Russian platinum, of silver from Mexico, and nickel from Australia, and so many other components it would take all day to list them. Eventually, this and the other 99% of the world’s cell phones are tossed in a landfill when the next iPhone comes out.

This eye-opening video raised a lot of questions about how feasibly we can continue on our so called developmental path full of fancy gadgets and cloud-hugging towers when we live on a planet of finite resources. But convincing people to think about this is tricky – until you see a nifty infographic like the one put together by American designer Camden Asay and posted on FastCo Design. Finally, thanks to one succint (but no doubt fallible) chart, we have a pretty good idea of just how quickly we are depleting … a lot.

FastCo warns that although Asay derived his data from reputable sources such as the U.S. Geological Survey, this chart might be a little bit too easy to grasp since it’s difficult to predict how our rate of consumption will compare to our increasing ability to do more with less. The site’s founder Cliff Kuang cites Jevons Paradox, which describes how (paradoxically) increased efficiency also increases our rate of consumption. Jevons Paradox + Rapid Population Growth = something worth sitting down for in order to properly digest it.

So think twice before you throw out your e-waste and other “junk,” which Egyptian fixers put to good use; one day it could be worth its weight in gold.

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